Disclosure: Youthful U.K. Dance-Music Siblings Handle Vocals With Care
"I didn't go to a club for enjoyment until about two years after we started playing in them. I wasn't allowed."
Who: Budding U.K. pop stars but emerging producers in America, Disclosure recast garage and 2-step — house-music offshoots that ruled London a decade ago — with a keen eye for anthemic choruses and sweeping emotional moments. The group is two brothers (Guy Lawrence, 21, and Howard, 18) who played instruments at a young age but only started producing when they formed Disclosure in 2009. They put their first tracks on Myspace and built underground buzz with releases on the label Moshi Moshi before exploding last year with a remix of Jessie Ware’s “Running” and their own single “Latch,” a swooning, lush track that scraped the Top 10 on Britain’s singles chart. They will release a new single (“You & Me” featuring Eliza Doolittle) on April 28, an EP collection of previous singles on April 30, and their debut album Settle on June 3.
Beginner’s Pluck: Befitting kids who didn’t try producing house music until they were in their late teens, the Lawrence brothers have spent much of their life listening to old pop records and classic, producer-driven hip-hop. “I was listening to a lot of funk because I’m a bass player. I was also into a lot of singer-songwriters like Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, because it’s really clever songwriting,” Howard says. Adds Guy: “I was listening to American hip-hop mainly, that’s what got me into the idea of making music electronically, making beats and stuff like that. DJ Premier, Gang Starr, Busta Rhymes… just J. Dilla, basically.” Their interests put them out of step with their friends in Surrey, a London suburb. “We didn’t really know what was going on when we were growing up. The first time we shared a common interest in music was when we started making whatever it was we were making,” Guy says. “We didn’t know anything about dance music or where it came from, we didn’t know anything about house.”
The Interpersonal Touch: Unlike many dance producers, Disclosure like to work with vocalists, usually collaborating in the studio, another element of their recording process that makes them outliers. “We’ve never really done the remote thing, it just doesn’t work,” says Howard. “Normally, [when we started] we’d write the whole song without the vocals, and since we didn’t have a good mic or anything, we’d go up into London, and meet up with the vocalist and write the vocals with them.”
Growing Up in the Disco Light: The Lawrence brothers are of a British generation who grew up with dubstep; but because they lived an hour or so outside London, they didn’t frequent clubs as teens. “It’s just a nightmare to get home,” Guy says. “But in Brighton, my best friend had a flat so we’d just stay there.” It was in Brighton where the older Lawrence heard tracks that sparked his interest in making music. “[Joy Orbison’s] ‘Hyph Mngo’ was the first track where I was, like, ‘What the fuck is that?’ But it’s a revolutionary tune. After that, I thought it was something we could get involved with.” Howard, meanwhile, didn’t experience club culture until Disclosure got bookings themselves. “I didn’t go to a club for enjoyment until about two years after we started playing in them,” he says. “I wasn’t allowed. We started when I was 15.”
Vocalcity: With Settle, Disclosure promise a mix of pop-aimed vocal songs and traditional club tracks grounded in garage and house. They recorded the album in just under a year, and spent time during the process studying full-length albums by other dance producers. “[We compared] it to Daft Punk in the sense that it’s a vocal album,” says Howard. “There aren’t many dance albums with full vocals. We don’t really know why. You need the vocals to capture your tune and lift it now and again.” While working on the album, the boys took different approaches to interacting with the outside world. Howard kept himself more closed off, popping up to listen to new music only once every few months. Guy, meanwhile, kept his ear to the dance floor: “I always want to hear what’s going on and where it’s going.”